Something is missing so far this spring and summer — the sound of slapping and a certain buzzing around our heads.
In another ‘unprecedented’ aspect of the ongoing pandemic, Red Deerians are enjoying their backyards, parks and trails without being pestered by blood-sucking mosquitoes.
This rare phenomenon can be attributed to an extremely dry early spring.
According to Environment Canada, only 7.6 mm of precipitation in total fell in March and April, compared to the combined average of 43.8 mm for the two months.
There was also less rainfall in May, although it was closer to normal with 45.2 mm compared to the 30-year average of 55 mm for the month, said Environment Canada Meteorologist Alysa Pederson. She’s also noticed hardly any mosquitoes around her home in Edmonton.
“I’ve only been bitten once all year,” added Pederson, with a chuckle.
Ken Lehman, the City of Red Deer’s ecological park services operations co-ordinator, said scant spring snowfall in Red Deer led to little snow melt.
While city parks workers still dutifully went out to spread the biological control agent, BTI, which kills mosquito and black fly larvae, hardly any standing water was found in ditches or around culverts, where mosquitoes usually lay their eggs.
Significant rain has since fallen on the city, so Lehman said parks workers are continuing to target places where mosquitoes are known to hatch.
The product used, BTI (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis), is a bacterium naturally found in soils. Lehman said the non-toxic bio-larvicide rapidly degrades in the environment and has no significant impact on other species (although it also kills black fly larvae).
By distributing the granular product on pond surfaces, mosquito larvae is killed before becoming an adult insect. “In hot weather, we see the larvae develop quickly, so we have to get out there and treat,” Lehman added.
He stressed the idea is not to eliminate mosquitoes entirely, “but just keep them at a tolerable level, so people aren’t constantly cursing.”
While humans don’t have much use for mosquitoes, only the females seek out blood which is needed to form their eggs. Lehman said mosquitoes are part of the food chain and a staple for many birds and dragonflies.
If there aren’t a lot of mozzies this summer, he suggested there might also be fewer dragonflies because nature tends to balance things out.
While Red Deerians have avoided an aerial onslaught so far, Lehman doubts we will be as lucky later this summer.
“There will be some mosquitoes coming, that I can guarantee,” he added, with a laugh.
So enjoy the outdoors without mosquito repellent while you can.
Once mosquitoes make a comeback, Lehman said Red Deerians can find tips about to how to reduce insect bites on the city’s website.